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Dev Biol. 2006 Sep 1;297(1):59-73.

Retroviral misexpression of cVax disturbs retinal ganglion cell axon fasciculation and intraretinal pathfinding in vivo and guidance of nasal ganglion cell axons in vivo.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institute für Hirnforschung, Deutschordenstrasse 46, D-60528 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


The transcription factor cVax (Vax2) is expressed in the ventral neural retina and restricted expression is a prerequisite for at least three prominent aspects of retinal dorsal-ventral patterning: polarized expression of EphB/B-ephrin molecules, the retinotectal projection and the distribution of rod photoreceptors across the retina. In the chick retina, the fasciculation pattern of ganglion cell axons also differs between the dorsal and ventral eye. To investigate the molecular mechanisms involved, the nerve fiber layer was analyzed after retroviral misexpression of several factors known to regulate the positional specification of retinal ganglion cells. Forced cVax expression ventralized the fasciculation pattern and caused axon pathfinding errors near the optic disc. Ectopic expression of different ephrin molecules indicated that axon fasciculation is, at least in part, mediated by the EphB system. Finally, we report that retroviral misexpression of cVax increased the pool of EphA4 receptors phosphorylated on tyrosine residues and altered the guidance preference of nasal axons in vitro. These results identify novel functions for cVax in intraretinal axon fasciculation and pathfinding as well as suggest a mechanism to explain how restricted cVax expression may influence map formation along the dorso-ventral and antero-posterior axes of the optic tectum.

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